I'm very pleased to present a piece created by an exceptional illustrator and comic artist, Jeff Stokely.
Jeff has, since doing these pictures for me so long ago, worked on some pretty impressive projects, including illustration for one of the first stories and the first cover of the new Fraggle Rock comic, as well as work for Mattel and TokyoPop. I am especially fond of his "Wonderland" take on Alice's world, and his "Labyrinth" piece which was recently chosen as design of the day by Tee Fury. Among many other things, he is also doing the illustration for a new comic, "The Truth About Dragons" which is looking great! It will be available through Archaia in 2013.
Jeff did two commissions for me a couple of years ago, but I wasn't quite ready to share them. And now with the release of the hardbound edition of Bronze I am! I was originally going to defer artwork for this post as I was hoping to perhaps lay some color on this, but the way things are going it won't happen soon, and I've waited too long as it is! This first piece is Jeff's concept for Dave and Chris from The Glister Journals and I really love it. I don't quite see them this way, but that's the point! They could look this way! Those of you who have read the book (or at least the online chapters), what do you think?
Back to my Northwest road trip:
Knowing how to give good directions should be a requirement of people who work front desks of hotels. After all, if you're staying in a hotel, it would be reasonable to assume that you might not know the area. At all.
On asking the hotel clerk if there was a Starbucks close by--wondering if, in the wilds of Medford, Oregon** they'd even heard of Starbucks--the nice lady said, "Oh, yes, of course! There's one right over in the plaza by Fred Myers."
She might just as well have said, "It's over in the blahblahblah by the blahblahblah." Who or what the heck is Fred Myers? More importantly, where exactly is he/it? I headed out in the direction she had vaguely waved in and eventually saw the big "Fred Myers" sign. I guess it's like a WalMart or something? Enlighten me. I didn't venture in. I was on a mission.
Fortified with my caffeinated substance of choice (black tea), I hit the I-5 again.
Roseburg is where I decided to stop for gas (and more tea). Buying gas in Oregon is a strange experience. It feels weird to let someone else pump my gas for me; makes me feel guilty as if I'm being selfish or acting entitled. I'd forgotten about "no self-serve" in Oregon, but I could probably get used to it. Especially the gas prices! At least fifty cents a gallon cheaper than what I usually spend. Apparently it costs MUCH more to transport gas into California. You know, because it's so inaccessible and everything.
I love California, but Oregon is, of course, gorgeous. Most of California (that I had passed through) was brown already, or almost brown, but Oregon was emerald still. I appreciate that.
Somewhere north of Drain (yes, Drain--one of the things I love about road trips is noticing place names!) I passed a pasture where a horse was lying down and standing behind him, obviously nuzzling or licking the crest of his neck and mane, was a small calf. Was this a random occurrence? The calf just happened to wander over to the horse and, curious about a different creature, start nuzzling? Or is the calf actually a minion of the horse, subjugated to serve it? Or is it a symbiotic relationship: you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours? I can't help but wonder about these things. I wished I could have stopped to take a picture, but it'll make a cute drawing if I ever get around to it.
It seems impossible, but Washington is even more lush and green than Oregon. I have to admit that, so far, it's my second favorite state (I've only been through fourteen). Just from a driver's point of view, some of the things I noticed:
- The "keep right" law. We have signs in California that state, "slower traffic keep right," but few people pay attention to it and I've never heard of anyone being pulled over for blocking faster traffic in the left lanes. I wish I had! It's one of my biggest pet peeves (that and people not using indicators...grrrrr.) In washington it's LAW. Awesome.
- Signage stating, "Litter and it will hurt," a vague, non-specific threat that kept my imagination endlessly occupied and made me smile every time I saw it.
- Washington Highway Patrol is on the job. Noticeably. The only reason I mention it is because driving through Washington was also noticeably pleasant with people (for the most part) yielding and merging respectfully, using their indicators, driving an acceptable few miles over the speed limit (instead of ten or twenty under or over) and driving on the far right whenever possible unless they were overtaking. An amazing system that actually works.
For the first part of the journey through Oregon I listened to Gotye's Making Mirrors. By now I'm sure everyone's heard "Somebody That I Used to Know" which I still like in spite of it being overplayed, but just for the record, I do NOT like the remix version. Whose idea was that I wonder? Wally's or a producer's? The song was fresh and original and they took and made it sound like every other pop tune on the radio. Thankfully the remix is not on the album.
Wally DeBacker (Gotye) has one of the most versatile voices I've heard in a long time, not just in range--there seems to be quite a lot of male singers out there right now with incredible range--but in quality and tone. He really works his voice, which I can appreciate. I also love his tendency to use tribal rhythms in much of his music rather than straight-up rock drumkit or electro-dance rhythms. I guess that's why i don't like the STIUTK remix. Ah well...
One of my favorite tracks on the album, and which I'd already become familiar with through the video, is "Eyes Wide Open." This took on even more meaning as I drove through Oregon's gorgeous pine forests and over blue rivers.
Another track that I really enjoyed on the trip was State of the Art. I admit it took a little while for me to really understand what he was talking about, but then I had to listen to the whole thing again and laughed quite a bit. It may not mean much to a lot of people, but it reminded me strongly of someone I actually knew, who had one of those keyboards that have rhythms and whatnot programmed into them. It probably cost about a hundred dollars. He thought he was a pretty good musician. He also only used the one-finger chord setting and sang in a "lounge"-y style. Hahaha...oh, memories. Anyway, I like the song better than the video (I think it's ugly and annoyingly repetitive) so gave you the link in case you want to check it out, but I don't expect it would mean much to most people.
"Bronte" had me driving through tears, thinking of beloved pets, past and present. When thoughts of people creep in too it's almost overwhelming for me. I have posted it before here, at the end of the post, so I won't post it again.
I will leave you with this song which is another favorite. The video is kind of repetitious and annoying too, but the animation is pretty cool (though very simple) so I like it anyway. Haha. Enjoy and I'll see you next time!
**No offence is meant to Oregon or Oregonians. It's just my sense of humor. I LOVE Oregon and find the people warm and friendly, even when they know I'm from California!
Note: All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.
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